DE WITT – Savannah Gerlach calls FFA a “family tradition.”
Her older sister, Cheyenne, served as a Nebraska state FFA vice president from 2016-17. Even then, Gerlach wasn’t sure a state office position was something she’d pursue.
Then, she saw everything her sister got to do while serving in her role.
“When I was younger, I said ‘I have different plans and I’m not my sister,'” Gerlach said. “As I got to see all of the things my sister got to accomplish through her state FFA office, I thought, ‘Wow. What an amazing experience.’ This past year, I looked into it more. As I fell more in love with the FFA, I thought maybe it’d be a good thing to try and pursue. And now, I’m here!”
Gerlach, a Tri County senior and FFA chapter president, was appointed as the 2019-2020 Nebraska State FFA Secretary on Apr. 5th in a ceremony at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln.
The ceremony capped the end of the week-long Nebraska state FFA convention in Lincoln, held Apr. 1-5.
“(Savannah) is a wonderful young lady to begin with,” Tri County FFA Advisor Dave Barnard said. “Mature, poised, caring. So, I’m glad to see all of these accolades went her way. As far as our chapter, school and community, it’s great state and local exposure when they hear that Savannah is from Tri County.”
Savannah, and her seven member office team, start their one-year responsibilities immediately, with training already scheduled for this weekend.
The new state officer team will then meet in Lincoln sometime before high school graduation in preparation for a week-long, five-session training course in Aurora at the end of May.
“She’ll be meeting 300-400 students right off the bat to get them pumped for the next school year,” Barnard said.
Gerlach said the process of applying for state office began long before last week’s state convention.
“The process first started in February when I had to submit my application,” she said. “From there, everyone got an interview at the end of February in Kearney. Then, the nomination committee chose about half of the candidates that moved onto finals. Then, we had some final interviews at state convention.
“It’s been a really exciting process. I’m really thankful to have gone through it. I learned lots about myself – my strengths and weaknesses as a leader. Overall, I’m very thankful for the experience.”
Some of her new responsibilities as state FFA secretary will include coordinating the statewide Chapter Officer Leadership Training in May, chapter visits, assisting with the Nebraska State Fair, agri-business outreach and organizing next year’s State FFA Convention.
“She takes our (Tri County) chapter to a direction that has our best interests in mind,” Barnard said, “and I think she’s going to do those same things across the state. One of the things she has to do is chapter visits. She’ll go from ScottsBluff to Falls City and visit chapters in their school through this year.”
Savannah will attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln next fall and major in an agriculture field.
The life of a college student is busy – even busier when you’re a state FFA officer. Gerlach, however, isn’t worried.
“The university has lots of counselors and advisors in place to help me through that,” she said. “Honestly, my experiences in high school with being involved and so busy, I should be okay with managing my time and priorities as well. I know the Nebraska FFA Association will take care of me as well. I’m just really excited to go through the process.”
Besides FFA, Gerlach runs track, was the captain of the cross country team, co-captain for girls’ basketball, vice president of student council, treasurer for National Honors Society, president of the art club which she started as a sophomore and was a member of the Superintendent’s Leadership Team.
Gerlach is the daughter of Rick & Amy Gerlach of De Witt. Hear the full interview with Savannah below.
You can follow Tommy on Twitter @Tommy_NCN.